The sadness underlying this poignant play, by Neil Koenigsberg, creates a shadow over the often humorous action. An elderly man who has lost his wife to cancer returns to their favorite city and stays at a boutique hotel off King’s Road in London. Under psychiatric advice he intends to visit all the usual haunts: museums, theatres, parks, to lift his mood and find a purpose in going on with life.
However, there are a few things on his bucket list that he decides to try, the best of which is a visit to a prostitute that turns out to be quite nourishing. Still, later, when he writes on a blackboard “I am so lonely… ” the bleakness of his life cancels all joy. In spite of the genial presence of others at the hotel, in the end, when we long for an affirmation of life we are left with a sense of desolation.
Tom Bower is moving as a desperate man clutching to life; Casey Kramer is sweet as his nosy cat-loving neighbor; Thaddeus Shafer persuades as a harried psychiatrist who has his own problems, and Michael Uribes is just right as the sympathetic desk clerk.
Outstanding is Maria Zyrianova as a prostitute who is beautiful in both body and spirit.
Under Amy Madigan’s calm direction the story unfolds in short scenes that are transitioned smoothly by the extraordinary rotating bedrooms/hotel lobby set designed by Joel Daavid. Original music is by sound designer Joseph “Sloe” Slawinski; lighting by Christina Schwinn, and costumes by Sharell Martin.
A Guest Production at The Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd, LA, through August 2. Tickets at (323) 960-7712 or www.plays411.com/kingsroad.
Photos by Ed Krieger